Dr Sarah May

Dr Sarah May

Senior Lecturer, History

Telephone number

+44 (0) 1792 295936

Email address

Research Links

Available For Postgraduate Supervision


Dr Sarah May is an expert in heritage studies with significant international experience in heritage agencies, community research and independent enterprise. Her recent research on future making practices in heritage and related disciplines is at the cutting edge of critical heritage studies

Her career path has led from archaeological fieldwork, through to the public value of heritage practice in community development. She led a series of significant projects, including establishing new academic programmes and digitising the research practice of English Heritage. This combination of research, leadership and public engagement gives her a strong foundation for community focussed heritage research. Highlights include:

  • Founded of Heritage for Transformation, a consultancy devoted to the value of heritage in community building through change. Key projects include heritage in support of a school merger, oral history of a German Prisoner of War camp, Public consultation on the management plan for Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage site.
  • Led the research, design and implementation of digital recording of archaeological fieldwork for English Heritage.
  • Managed the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site GIS programme and oversaw its integration into English Heritage corporate GIS.
  • Managed Archaeological oversight of the Silbury Hill project for English Heritage, including management and public engagement.
  • Directed the archaeology of a major interdisciplinary wetland archaeological project maximising public benefit from the development of a lead zinc mine

Areas Of Expertise

  • Difficult and Toxic Heritage
  • Participatory Heritage
  • Heritage Practice and Policy in the UK
  • Heritage Management
  • Heritage Futures
  • UNESCO and World Heritage
  • Archaeology of the Contemporary World
  • Digital Archaeology

Career Highlights

Teaching Interests

Undergraduate Teaching on Public History and Heritage

Convenes the MA in Public History and Heritage


Dr May’s current research focusses on Toxic Heritage – heritage which is harmful either to health or to society. This draws links between hazardous materials, such as nuclear waste, and unresolved violent pasts, such as slavery. She is particularly concerned to challenge the role of heritage in maintaining racism in contemporary society.

She is also part of the National Lottery Fund for Heritage Fund project ‘Connecting Small Histories’ run by the Jewish Small Communities Network  https://jscn.org.uk/heritage/


UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures, Linnaeus University, Sweden http://blogg.lnu.se/unesco/

Jewish Small Communities Network https://jscn.org.uk/heritage/